“Bring it on” says Morton to younger rivals

Kevin Morton1 (125x187)Kevin Morton is the oldest of the competitors in the Classic Jockeys Series, but he knows what he has let himself in for at Te Rapa on Sunday week.

At 60, Morton (pictured)  is 35 years older than Chad Ormsby, the youngest member of the line-up, but he’s ready for the challenge, taking on such former rivals as Paul Richards (53), Bob Vance (55), Jim Collett (54) and Stephen Autridge (55).

“I can tell you it will be competitive,” said Morton, who was one of the top South Island jockeys during his era. “They’ll all be out to win.

“JC (Collett) will be looking to bounce out and get straight to the rail. Vance will make sure he’s on a top chance, too, but he’s not that brave. He rode at Hokitika once and said he’d never go back.

“Lee Tiley should have it over the rest of us on fitness, being a fitness instructor. We’ll have to get past her early and hold her in.”

Richards and Collett are the riders Morton competed against most during his days in the saddle, but he’s not worried about the former. “Snooze (Richards) will get lost at Te Rapa,” he quipped.

Morton rode 371 winners at a time when the competition for mounts was fierce with a host of top jockeys in action. But he admits his discipline let him down at times. “I had a terrible run of suspensions,” he recalled.

One of the highlights of Morton’s career was riding the great galloper Grey Way. He had three rides on the horse dubbed “the Washdyke Wonder” for a win in Wingatui’s White Robe Lodge Handicap and two placings.

He also had three rides on Noel Eales’ top mare Orchidra for two wins (including Trentham’s Galaxy Stakes) and a second, while other top horses he rode at least once were Little Brown Jug and Candyboy.

Morton’s career was principally confined to the South Island, but he did pick up a few wins at Trentham when venturing over the Cook Strait.

“Probably the biggest thrill I had was when I was Riding Master and two of my young riders were David Walsh and Grant Davison,” said Morton. “I’m proud of what they went on to do and Walshy is still going strong.”

The Classic Jockeys Series (run over two races at Te Rapa meetings), isn’t a first for Morton. He remembers riding in a similar type event at Riccarton “eight or nine years” ago and it was a case of the pupil beating the teacher. “I ran second and Grant Davison beat me,” he recalled.

Morton says it must be almost 30 years since he retired from the raceday saddle. But he has continued to ride horses in trackwork.

“I started training a few and have always ridden work,” he said. “I’ve got two in work now and they help to keep me fit.”

Morton has owned and managed several bars/nightclubs since retiring as a jockey and in recent years he shifted north to the Franklin area. The star of his two-horse team is Bitethebullet, a last-start winner on the Te Rapa track on October 27.

Unfortunately with the Classic Jockeys Series races being confined to maidens, Bitethebullet is ineligible and so is stablemate Edge Of Fame, a winner at Pukekohe last March. But Morton is determined to find a worthwhile mount to show up his younger rivals.